How to Vote Parent Artists – AEA | PAAL

Here is the extended cheat-sheet for union Actors and Stage Members who want to be sure their vote goes toward a parent artist or parent ally as PAAL collaborates and members engage with this incredible union for more inclusive practices, better visibility, and increased accessibility for parent artists in the theatre. Each position has a number of candidates you are eligible to choose – even up to 18 people for a position – so feel free to check every name listed below, especially if it means multiple boxes filled in for a position where allowed on your ballot.

PAAL has connected with and fully endorses the following candidates for AEA council. The names are in the order you will find on your MAIL IN BALLOT to vote:

1st VICE PRESIDENT: (Vote for 1)


Melissa Robinette – PARENT ALLY [#FWOC, #yesAND]
was born a circus kid, and has booked numerous regional theater jobs through EPAs and ECCs, and has been a tremendous force in the union, as Eastern VP for 5 years and 1st VP for the last year, and was one of the founding members of #FairWageOnStage.
Watch her video statement HERE.

2nd VICE PRESIDENT: (Vote for 1)

rashaan james ii

Rashaan James II – PARENT ALLY, [#yesAND]
“I’m a man of the chorus, through and through. It’s how I make my living I’m the guy at every ECC, holding my number, waiting my turn, looking for the next job. The Chorus and its inner working are my life. I”ve served as a Chorus Councilor since 2016, and I’m now ready to take the next step in my committment and service to the Chorus seeking to Chair Equity’s Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs as your 2nd Vice President.



Sid Solomon – PARENT ALLY, [#FWOC, #yesAND]
has served on Equity’s National Council since 2015, and has established himself as one of the Council’s most involved, engaged, and accessible members, serving on 16 Equity Committees and Working Groups, and helping to oversee more than 40% of all workweeks in the Eastern Region.
Watch his video statement HERE.

WESTERN PRINCIPAL: (Vote for up to 10)


Brooke Ishibashi – PARENT ALLY, [#FWOC]
is a SoCal native who cut her teeth Off-Broadway for 11 years, champions work that elevates the diverse voices of the underrepresented, and fights for her Union colleagues to demand fairness, equality and inclusion.
Watch her video statement HERE.

CENTRAL PRINCIPAL: (Vote for up to 2)

michael newcomer

Michael A. Newcomer – PARENT ARTIST, [#FWOC]
has experienced life as an Equity member traveling the Regional Theatre circuit, and now, as a proud New Orleans resident, is ready to make sure the Central Region becomes proactive on wages, conversations about family, and bringing more theaters under our union’s banner.
Watch his video statement HERE.

EASTERN STAGE MANAGER: (Vote for up to up to 4)


Amanda Spooner – PARENT ARTIST, PAAL Steering Committee, [#WeAreEquity, #SpoonForBetter]
“It is totally okay that I procreated. Here is some evidence that everyone survived. Is it easy? No. Do we, as a union, provide enough resources to support parents? No. Do we even have enough conversation about parenting in the freelancing arts? Absolutely not. But progress is possible. Family is possible. Business and humanity can coexist.”
Watch her video statement HERE.


Emily C. Rolston – PARENT ALLY, [#FWOC]
is a stage manager whose work on smaller contracts like SPT and TYA has made her realize that all contracts must pay fair and living wages, while remaining in service of both our membership and the future of our profession.
Watch her video statement HERE.

EASTERN CHORUS: (Vote for up to 8)


Lauren Villegas – PARENT ALLY, [#FWOC]
is a fighter for inclusion, accessibility, gender parity, fair wages, and safe work environments.
Watch her video statement HERE.

EASTERN PRINCIPAL – (Vote for up to 18)


Diane Davis – PARENT ARTIST, PAAL Ambassador, [#FWOC]
is a founding member of #FairWageOnStage, a passionate advocate for union engagement and inclusion, and as a Parent Artist Advocacy League ambassador fights for workplace conditions that allow parenthood to be viable for actors and stage managers.
Watch her video statement HERE.


Kate O’Phalen – PARENT ARTIST, PAAL Union Point Person, [#yesAND]
Championing gender parity in regional theatre, pregnant people’s rights, and parenting initiatives. Co-Founder and Chair of the Young Workers Committee. Co-Founder and Admin of the unofficial Under 40 Facebook group. Got her AEA card from an EPA. Youngest sitting Councillor. Mom of two.


Kristen Beth Williams – PARENT ARTIST, Co-Chair of AEA Parent Committee, PAAL Rep, [#yesAND]
“I’ve worked on the East Coast, the West Coast, and everywhere in between. Trying to navigate this business as a new parent is No Joke! My focus is advocating for our parent-members. We should never have to choose between having a career and having a family.”

ludwig williams parent AEA
Meet her partner, a parent and advocate running as well. Parent-artist pairs need representation on our council as well…


James Ludwig – PARENT ARTIST, [#FWOC, #yesAND]
is a forward thinker who created the Media & New Technology Committee at Equity and co-wrote contract language that got Actors paid for their Media usage across multiple contracts. My wife Kristen Beth (part of #YesAnd and newly minted Co-Chair of the Parents committee) and I are both dedicated parent members; our son Jake was born in August 2017.
Watch his video statement HERE.


Brandon J. Dirden – PARENT ARTIST, [#FWOC]
an early supporter of #FairWageOnStage, is a NY-based actor who has worked on and off Broadway, regionally from coast to coast, and wants to help strengthen the union by fighting for more inclusive opportunities and members raising families.
Watch his video statement HERE.

Adam-Green-5x7-215x300Adam GreenPARENT ARTIST, [#FWOC]
is a founding member of #FairWageOnStage, was part of the 2016 Off-Broadway negotiation team, has performed extensively in the regions and Off-Broadway, and believes that AEA should be a strong, front-footed national labor union that seeks better wages, conditions, and access for every single one of its members.
Watch his video statement HERE.


Jennifer Swiderski – PARENT ALLY, [#yesAND]
Member since 2000. CIrcus, Principal, Understudy, Swing, Dance Captain, Deputy. Inspired to run after touring on SETA and Tiered Production.
Check out her council re-election website HERE.


Brian Myers Cooper – PARENT ALLY [#FWOC]
used his many years of experience as a councillor and trustee, to lead the team and develop the strategy for the 2016 Off-Broadway negotiations which led to historic 32-83% gains, fundamentally changing the way Equity approaches all future negotiations.
Watch his video statement HERE.


Matthew J. Kilgore – PARENT ALLY, [#yesAND]
“I’ve made a career in the Chorus since 2001. I rely on ECCs to book work, and I’ve been fortunate to work on stages in every region. I’m a repeat deputy. Founding member of AEA Under 40. Regular volunteer for BCEFA. Founder of the newly re-named Ghostlight Housing – the original Performing Arts Housing Group.


John McGinty – PARENT ALLY [#FWOC]
is passionate about working to improve inclusion both onstage and behind the scenes, to ensure that every Equity production is accommodating for artists of every ability.
Watch his video statement HERE.


Ben Liebert – PARENT ALLY, [#yesAND]
I’m a character man, Chorus utility player, meticulous nerd, a deputy, a listener, a husband, and a dog dad. I relish the challenge of getting into the nitty gritty, fixing things proactively, and working towards a better educated membership and ultimately a better union.




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